Challenges to see Christ…especially in these interesting days
There are many challenges that each of us are encountering as we seek to be safe and healthy during this global health situation. As a Pastor this presents a challenge to me, because our churches have been shuttered because of the possibility of contagion, and we are practicing ‘social distancing’ to minimize the possibility of exponentially passing on the virus that has upended our lives. As a Pastor I am trying to creatively adjust by opting to ‘high tech’ instead of ‘high touch’. Through our Parish Website https://holytrinitychurchhi.org/ and myParishApp, I am trying to keep all of you connected as both members of the Body of Christ and of our parish.
Yes, life has been interrupted and in this case it’s not just one small group of people, but it is the universal family, it’s all of us! “Social distancing” is the new buzz word and for those of us who are so accustomed to sharing the Aloha Spirit it has caused us to unnaturally greet one another from afar. This weekends gospel is a timely lesson that offers us something beautiful to remember about Jesus and His ministry to all of us. In our scripture (John 9:1-41) we read about Jesus encountering a blind man and declaring that through this man the mighty works of God will be made visible. Jesus restores this man’s sight through the following actions: he declares that this mans blindness is not caused by his sinning, he spat and made a clay mixture, he smeared it on the mans eyes, then told him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam, then he regained his sight. In the context of our current situation this might not have happened if He listened to the many advisories that we are receiving for national and local authorities. But He wouldn’t have let that stop Him because we know that all the roadblocks that the Scribes and Pharisees put in His way, did not deter Him from sharing the Fathers love, mercy, and healing with those who especially needed it.
We are very careful, and rightly so, about being part of crowd with more then 10 people. We don’t shake hands or offer a hug of aloha. Many of us are wearing masks, using soap, water, and hand sanitizers. Many are feeling a slight sense of optimism because they have a supply of sanitizer and toilet paper, among other essential items. But here is something that we also must remind ourselves of. We need to practice social distancing, but God does not practice social distancing. It is not part of Gods nature to remain apart from us. The central event in the story of salvation, “the Incarnation” is all about God entering our experience, not being apart from it. Emmanuel’s “God is with us” must be our prayer and mantra these days. God will not and does not stay away from us. He has not done this in the past, will not do it now, and will never do it in the future.
In St Paul’s Letter to the Romans 8:35-39, he says with authority: Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, Or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword, [or even a virus]?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Although the days and weeks will call us to make certain sacrifices. Let us all remain confident in the presence of God in our homes and lives. Perhaps the greatest sacrifice that we are all called to endure is the sacrifice of not being able to attend Mass and receive communion. Sacrifice doesn’t have to necessarily cause us pain but in this case it does. As a priest I can tell you that it pains me not to be able to celebrate Mass and give you the Body and Blood of Jesus in communion. We share this pain and perhaps through it we come closer to the ultimate suffering and pain that Jesus endured for our sins.
While I might not be able to celebrate public masses in our church, I am still celebrating mass for you and your needs and intentions. It might not be and feel the same as when we gather in church, but for now it’s the best that I can do, and it is the best that I will do for you. Although my ministry is now at a ‘social distance’ from you, it’s very close because nothing can separate us “from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. I will continue to preach, tend to the flock, and comfort those afflicted in any way as best as I can. Happy Lent and blessings,